Editor’s note: for mobile users, this poem is best viewed in landscape mode.
Juan Luis Guzmán
within another act, as part of various acts
BOY, birthed from barrio. Enters.
Summer and so much heat.
Discovery. Young and seedless
grape; before the colors change.
BOY: My street is Sunset Street.
LIFEGUARD: (motions toward the water)
BOY: One time I swallowed a bee.
(Every act is a lie.)
Light: from unknown source on
LIFEGUARD, has the light always
been on? Does it follow her?
EXT. community pool at
barrio kids only;
free swim lessons.
Cut to: his father’s street, a dead
end, not a thru street. Every sign
tells the same story.
Back to: grass under BOY’s
Sound cue: birds, a passing car, the
wet of a body entering a body of
Cut to: el fil, la uva, dead center in a
vineyard row. Dust and heat in all
places. His MOTHER laying down
sheets of thin brown paper; his
FATHER, follows with trays of
grapes, dumping them. The dirt is a
fine, fine powder.
Back to: the sensation
it overcomes his body.
In water, same as air, he
LIFEGUARD: Close your eyes. Relax. Lie across my legs.
BOY: Are you holding me up?
LIFEGUARD: Those are wet feathers.
BOY: Are you still holding me up?
Sound cue: heartbeat, the echoes of
Neither of his parents can swim.
Pan to: BOY’s view from pool, all
blue and clouds. Telephone poles cut
across the sky like crucifixes.
Off: MOTHER and FATHER and
SPIDERS. Dust prevails.